Should I Flush Out The Automatic Transmission Fluid In My Car?

Reader Question

I have a 1999 Chevy Cavalier, 2.2L engine, 4 speed automatic transmission, with 112k miles. It has run extremely well since I’ve owned it (about 3 years now), and there was only one previous owner who claimed to regularly maintain the vehicle.

My question is whether I should change the transmission filter/fluid. I’ve read your post on warning others of changing tranny fluid in high mileage vehicles that have not been maintained, but perhaps you can tell me if my case is different. The service manual for my vehicle states that the fluid/filter should be replaced every 50,000 miles, so assuming at least one change was done in the life of the car by the previous owner, I’m not too far off schedule.

Also, the tranasxle capacity for that vehicle is 9 qts, but only about 4 quarts are lost when the pan is dropped, leaving 5 quarts of the old fluid in the transmission (torque converter, etc). Would that reduce the risk of slippage, given the fact that less than half of the fluid is being replaced?

The fluid is not dark and does not smell burnt, and I have never had a problem with the transmission. My only motivation is to keep the transmission running as good as it has been up until now.


Thanks, and thanks for the wonderful resource you provide.


Hi There Scott,

Normally I would NOT recommend doing anything with this transmission, BUT, since you say there are no problems with slipping or noises coming from inside the transmission…..I would feel comfortable recommending flushing out the old fluid.

I would recommend the “transmission flush” over the conventional transmission pan removal just because it will remove more of the fluid and possible debris that is inside the transmission. There is also less chance of messing something up! Just about any fast lube place can do this for you while you wait.

Read more …..
Should You Change The Transmission Filter On a High Mileage Vehicle

Austin Davis

2 Comments on "Should I Flush Out The Automatic Transmission Fluid In My Car?"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. darleen says:

    Isn’t it a fact or true that if you use say a standard fluid with an additive used by such companies like say aamco, lucas, cottman and the like or use it yourself in a 1996 – 2008 Chrysler Town and Country it would or could overheat and cause damage to the transmission ? How important is it to use the recommended ATF + 4 in a 1996 and above Chrysler Town & Country Lxi ?

    • admin says:

      I personally have not had an issue with overheating with those additives. It IS important to use the proper transmission fluid though.

Got Something to Say?